If you’re careless with your life, it will end before it’s supposed to. I know that’s a bit heavy for an opening, but it’s the absolute truth. I learned this the hard way when I failed to properly monitor my painkiller intake. I was pushed by people in every direction to take these pills: my doctor, my friends, my wife, everyone. I’m not blaming them for what happened to me-after all, nobody forced me to take the pills when they were given to me-but I just think it’s amazing how something so dangerous could have such widespread approval and universal support.

It started, appropriately enough, with my head. For years, I had experienced severe migraines that severely impacted my quality of life. There were periods where I would have to take multiple days off of work because the pain simply wouldn’t allow me to concentrate or perform in any meaningful way. I spent a lot of time in bed with the lights off, waiting for this excruciating pain to cease. In the meantime, life was going on all around me. I don’t mean to sound dramatic; I’m just trying to paint a picture of how badly in need of relief I was.

When regular pain relievers weren’t working for my migraines, my doctor suggested something stronger. When he suggested oxycodone, I immediately refused. I thought that sort of drug was reserved for issues like major severe acute post-operative pain and things like that. I had never even considered taking such strong stuff for what I considered to be an everyday problem. I then considered how badly my quality of life had been suffering in the wake of this pain; how I’d snap at my wife and children for laughing, how I’d leave the dog out way longer than I should because I didn’t want to hear him bark; how I literally lived my life in darkness. It there was a pill that could free me from this prison, I owed it to the people I cared about to give it a shot.

Six months later, I had become completely dependent on these pills and almost died of an overdose. The pain had only temporarily subsided and eventually came back stronger than ever. I should have realized that these migraines were an ongoing problem and that a more gradual, long-term solution was needed. Instead, I gripped on to what little temporary relief I could find and traded a few minutes of happiness for about a year of long-term misery. My wife and I had a long talk after my overdose and I made the decision to seek treatment. I couldn’t believe how quickly painkiller addiction crept up on me.

It was hard to accept that I actually needed treatment. This meant that I was a diagnosable drug addict in need of clinical help and I was very uncomfortable with that. In rehab, however, I learned to put all that to the side and do what I needed to do to stop taking these pills.